This blog is my attempt to reconnect with the world of chemistry. I have a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry and make a living doing research for a large company in Michigan. As times have changed, that company has changed its focus and I no longer have as much chance to do the basic, fundamental research which I most enjoy. Through this blog, I am hoping to recapture the magic which I felt during my graduate (and undergraduate) days in college. Expect topics on chemistry and alchemy along with some non-chemistry related items which I think might be interesting.

"The chymists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their pleasure among smoke and vapour, soot and flame, poisons and poverty; yet among all these evils I seem to live so sweetly that may I die if I would change places with the Persian King."

Johann Joachim Becher (phlogistonist)
Acta Laboratorii Chymica Monacensis, seu Physica Subterranea, (1669).

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Vet

Last night my wife and I brought our cat (Orielle) home from a 2 night stay at the vet. She is suffering from a bout of acute pancreatitis, and since the pancreas is responsible for producing insulin, she is going to need insulin injections until her pancreas (hopefully) repairs itself. Before we left, the vet gave us instructions on injecting insulin, and then all three of us practiced giving our poor cat injections of saline solution. Actually this isn’t much of a big deal for cats – Orielle appeared not even to notice. I’ve given cats injections before and unless the liquid stings (and luckily insulin doesn’t), cats never seem to realize anything has happened. Just lift up the skin of the cat around the shoulder, and inject into the hollow area between the skin and the body. Even my wife, who was reluctant to try at first, admitted that it was pretty easy.

The doctor warned me that Orielle might still be in discomfort for a while, and her pain medication would run out by morning. If she looked to be uncomfortable, I was told to come back to the clinic and they would give me a syringe of pain medication. In the morning, although she looked at lot better than when we had brought her in, I could tell she was still a little uncomfortable. So I called the vet and the person I talked to said I could bring her in for the pain medication. I mentioned that the doctor had said I could just get the filled syringe from them and inject her myself. Sure, they said, come on over. After all the pills and injections I’ve given cats over the years, I wasn’t worried about this at all. What’s one more injection anyway? So I get to the vet, they hand me a few syringes and ask if I’ve been told how to use them.

“No problem,” I replied, “I’ve already been shown how to give her insulin.”

“Well, we find it works better if you use her cheek pouch for this.”

“What?” I said, slightly taken aback. “What do you mean by using her cheek pouch?”

“Just open her mouth and place the syringe into her cheek near the back of her mouth and inject the medicine into her cheek.”

After several seconds of picturing this in my mind, I finally managed to say, "That sounds rather...diffcult."

"Oh, it turns out to be fairly easy," the vet said, smiling in a manner that was supposed to be reassuring.

Apparently I wasn't as experienced at this cat stuff as I thought.

"Doesn't that hurt?" I asked.

"Not really. It's better than being poked."

After a few awkward moments of silence, the vet suddenly exclaimed, "Wait a minute. You do realize that these syringes don't have needles in them. You're just squirting the contents onto the inside of her cheeks!"

Relief has never felt so good.

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